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The expat experience: How can you stay happy in the here and now?

A new start may be full of new experiences but may also be stressful and affect our psychology. How could we overcome our negative feelings and open ourselves to every new encounter that awaits for us?

Electra Matsangou is a psychotherapist and psychologist from Greece. She grew up in Volos and then moved to Thessaloniki to study psychology. Thanks to the Erasmus exchange program, she first went to the Netherlands in 2008  and completely fell in love with the country and people. In 2010, she moved to the Netherlands to get her Master’s degree in Health Psychology. After completing her MSC, she started training in Gestalt Psychotherapy.

Living in a different country for six years had Electra facing the challenges that most expatriates have to go through, as well as all thoughts and feelings that are common amongst people that live in a new environment. “The Gestalts of an Expat” was an article she wrote while living abroad, for the Dutch e-journal “e-awareness”. She was an expatriate herself, so she knows that sometimes it can be really hard to adjust in a new country, being away from your family and trying to adapt to a foreign work environment.

Her passion about understanding one’s emotional state and working with people, plus the first-hand knowledge of the life of an expatriate made her want to work with internationals who live in Athens.

“I know sometimes it can be difficult to talk to a Greek therapist. Besides, the cultural differences and the language barrier, perhaps it is uncomfortable because you might want to complain about Greece or Greeks!”.

However, having this experience herself and talking about it with her patients made things easier and much more comfortable.

Greece, a multicultural destination

After 6 years in the Netherlands, Electra decided to reunite with her family and start her life again in Athens, Greece. She was also longing to come back to the Greek nature, the islands and the beautiful mountains that make her home country a place of many colors and shapes.

Electra has opened her new office in a coworking space and her aspiration was to consult and support international people that have decided to start their life in Greece. The coworking environment is what she was looking for, as being in touch with so many different people with diverse backgrounds and cultures is very refreshing.

“I like meeting people coming from different countries; it can be quite challenging, as people’s behavior and personalities are influenced by their cultural context, so it takes some effort to familiarize oneself with these contexts. But I personally find it to be a very beautiful and enriching experience. Having my office in a shared environment gives me the opportunity to spend some of my time between sessions with lots of multinational people and talk about politics, philosophy, or just personal stuff. That  boosts my energy and spirit in a whole different level.”

As a psychotherapist, Electra emphasizes the importance of surrounding ourselves with an environment that makes us happy. Athens is a city of  great vibes which can come alive day and night, making it absolutely a place to feel welcome! She also highlights the significance of making conscious choices in the here and now.

“Every choice we make doesn’t need to be always right for us or permanent. We need to revisit our choices in order to see if we still stand by them. Many times as expats we can have mixed or even contradictory feelings and thoughts regarding our experiences or the decisions we need to make and that can be distressful. In those cases, it can be very helpful to reach out to a specialist. Through counseling you can clear things up and get the support you deserve. You don’t have to do this alone!”

We would like to thank Electra for our beautiful chat, you can go ahead and check Electra’s coming workshop and further work on her website.

Are coworking spaces designed for a specific type of user?

The answer would be absolutely not! But let’s see why…

When you search the web about coworking spaces, you get the impression that the typical users are freelancers and startups. However, what about the people who are in a transitional phase and are in the mood of trying out new things?

Last week we had an insightful conversation with Virginie Viel. After finishing her PhD thesis in exploring how visualisation can be used to compose music, Virginie decided to take a little break, and experiment how she could artistically express the same message through different human senses (hearing, vision and tasting). It is inspiring listening her to talk about her quest to explore the relationship between the visual sense and music.

“When I think of music, I do it visually. In the frame of a project, I am working on, I am thinking of musical pieces as abstract patterns and colorful sensation, which I depict in pieces of paper as rectangular or circles or other motives and try to express them afterwards into sound and music.”

Virginie is about to obtain her PhD in Electroacoustic composition from the De Montfort University, Leicester (UK). She has a diverse academic background in arts and experimental music and at the moment she is studying baking at EISF -CAP Pâtissier – CAP Boulangerremotely. She also loves to explore new countries and she has lived and studied in France, Belgium and Great Britain. While writing her PhD Thesis, she came to Greece seeking for a new cultural environment. Although she submitted her PhD in October 2018 and passed the viva in January 2019, she is still in Athens as she found a warmth towards the people she encountered here worth staying!

Experimenting on music and baking

Currently, she is engaging in a project that is related to music and baking! She uses music as an inspiration to create pastries and then she organizes tasting sessions. There, rather than the opportunity of eating itself, she invites people to acknowledge their impulsive desire to try the deserts, and then she encourages them to slow down a bit the eating process and feel the actual experience as if it was a wine tasting.

She decided to approach Stone Soup after spotting it online. Her idea was to find a dynamic place with lots of potentials in terms of meeting people, discussing about her project or even discovering some new ones. It is very likely that we will be announcing such workshops in the near future! So stay tuned!

Music workshop

Now, if you are interested in experiencing Virginie’s project or just to meet her, you may attend this music workshop on Sunday 3rd of March, organized by Giorgos Kokkinaris, Giorgos Mizithras and Nikoleta Chatzopoulou. During this evening you will encounter a tasting journey meant to satisfy and surprise your tasting buds as a piece of music does to the ears.

Are you interested to find out more?
You may find here Virginie’s website and have a closer look at her creative pastries here.

Summer Internship at Stone Soup in Athens, Greece

As I was finishing my 2nd year of University in Vancouver, Canada, I started to apply to the summer internships that I was most excited about. Some of these were organised by AIESEC, the largest youth-run organisation in the world.

I was very motivated to experience interning abroad as that would not only give me the opportunity to work in a professional environment, but I would also get to explore another country. When I went through the opportunity portal on AIESEC’s website, the position of a marketing assistant at Stone Soup caught my eye. At first, the name ‘Stone Soup’ intrigued me and I was curious to learn more about it and when I did look into it, I immediately knew that this was where I wanted to intern in the summer.

When I got the news that I was selected for the position I was ecstatic but soon, I was also quite nervous. I did not know how different the work environment was going to be, I was nervous about the place I would be living at, whether or not I would be able to connect with other interns, the kind of clothes I was required to bring as part of the dress code, or the kind of food that I would eat for 2 months. These were just few of the concerns that were spiralling in my mind before even leaving for Greece.

However, now that I have spent 2 months working at Stone Soup, I feel more accomplished than I would feel at the end of an internship in Canada. That is because, not only have I gained some basic understanding in marketing and some marketing tools such as SEO, but I’ve also had the chance to get to know a lot of residents of Stone Soup. It has been great listening to their stories and learning from them.

I’d like to express my gratitude towards every single person that I’ve come across and interacted with at the Stone Soup space. Thank you for resolving all of my worries and for giving me the opportunity to have the best first internship!

Serving the Rising Demand for Rentals in Athens

In a recent post, we talked about an increase in companies starting up in Athens. Olala Homes is one such company that serves the rising demand for rentals in Athens. They have been working from Stone Soup’s shared workspace for the past few months.

Olala Homes specialises in providing well-designed touristic apartments for short-term and mid-term stays in Barcelona and Athens. The main motto, is to make every guest feel comfortable and happy as if they were living in their own home.

The company consists of an international group of enthusiasts who’s love for travelling and hospitality inspires them to give each of their customer a memorable and cherished experience abroad.

Eitan, the manager of the Olala Homes division in Athens is originally from Israel, therefore, his experience in Athens as a foreigner encourages him to give the best experience to the tourists travelling to Athens. As the manager, he looks over the renovation of these apartments and also focuses on the bookings and customer service. Eitan feels that having an office in the center of Athens is favourable as it is easy to commute using the public transportation and is in close vicinity to multiple restaurants and cafes. Some other perks of working in a shared workspace is that you get all extra amenities like a kitchen, living room and also the opportunity to socialize and get pro bono consultancy on day-to-day matters.

Olala Homes is growing at a rapid rate in Athens as they are soon going to have 25 furnished apartments available by October. These apartments are going to be located in the most desirable locations of Athens, however the two most popular locations are presumed to be Syntagma and Kolonaki. People travelling to Athens can conveniently book their apartments with Olala Homes on booking, expedia or Airbnb.

Read more about Olala Homes or directly book an appartment on their official website!